Soba Noodle Salad

IMG_1062 We've been eating a lot of soup lately. Winter, unsurprisingly, usually makes you crave hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of food, like stews, baked pasta and occasionally Shake Shack. But when you are tired of lasagna, sometimes a cold and light noodle salad will do the trick, even when it's 5 degrees outside. Cucumber and radishes add excellent crunch, and thanks to buckwheat soba noodles, you can eat a heaping plate and not feel too full (all the better to save room for dessert.)

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IMG_1068I probably shouldn't be writing this now considering we likely have at least two more months of chilly weather, but I for one am looking forward to spring. I love squash and apples and potatoes as much as anyone, but you know, one can only eat so much. We're leaving for Paris(!) in a week, and I'll be back in March with pictures (and of course, where we ate–I have a running list of approximately 50 places right now.)

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Soba Noodle Salad (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Chile-Scallion Oil

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 star anise pods

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

½ cup vegetable oil

Noodles And Assembly

12 oz. soba noodles

tablespoons soy sauce

tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

scallions, thinly sliced

½ large English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced

4 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced

1 cup cilantro leaves or any sprout

Chile-Scallion Oil

Cook all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until scallions and garlic are just golden brown, about 3 minutes. Let cool; transfer oil to a jar and cover until ready to use.

Noodles And Assembly

Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain. Rinse noodles under cold water, then shake off as much water as possible.

Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and oil in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add noodles, chicken, and scallions; toss to coat.

Toss with cucumber, radishes, and cilantro and drizzle with chile oil just before serving.

Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto

IMG_9629Happy New Year and apologies for the radio silence! There's really no excuse, but what with the flurry of the holidays and getting back into the swing of things with work and everything, it's felt like the last thing I want to do at night is sit in front of a computer. Otherwise, the new year is off to a good start–we're trying to eat healthier (at least for the month of January), so I can't say there have been a ton of exciting recipes here (lots of salads and variations on quinoa with vegetables and some protein). Have you made any resolutions? (Have you kept them?)IMG_9633I made these deviled eggs for a New Year's party, and I think they're my favorite variation on the recipe (basically, any combination of pork + eggs is genius in my book) but you could easily leave out the prosciutto for a vegetarian take. I could seriously eat a whole plate of these for dinner–but they make a great appetizer for any occasion. IMG_9634

Deviled Eggs with Prosciutto (adapted from Food & Wine)

12 large eggs

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

4 cornichons, minced

3 tablespoons goat cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot or red onion

2 teaspoons snipped chives or scallions

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 ouncea thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces

In a large saucepan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 8 minutes. Transfer the eggs to an ice water bath until chilled, about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cornichons, goat cheese, mustard, shallot and 1 teaspoon of the chives. Peel the eggs and halve them lengthwise. Add the yolks to the bowl, mix until smooth and season with salt and pepper.

Set the egg whites on a serving platter. Scrape the egg yolk mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe the filling into the whites; alternatively, spoon in the filling with a teaspoon. Top each egg with a piece of prosciutto, sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of chives and serve.

Entertaining: The Perfect Cheese Plate

mg_9276Though I sometimes love making complicated appetizers, when hosting a dinner or holiday party you can't ask for an easier (or more crowd-pleasing) option than a cheese plate. Of course, cheese plates are nothing new, but putting a little thought into it can take a mediocre plate of cheddar and turn it into an impressive spread.mg_9273 mg_9270

For starters, choose a variety of cheeses (the advised amount is about 2 oz of cheese per person–unless you're just planning on having cheese for dinner, in which case, it's at your discretion. Not that I've ever done that.) I like to go with something soft (such as Camembert or the very lovely Jasper Hill Harbison), something hard like Manchego or Comte, and something funky or blue like Époisses or this super creamy Gorgonzola Cremificato. If you want more than three types, you can branch out from there–just try to keep a balance between textures and how strong the flavors are. (Note that this is in no way sponsored by Murray's, I just find them to be an excellent resource when looking for cheese.)mg_9268

After that, I like to add a few varieties of pickles and jams (I usually go for pepper jelly), like mini cornichons and if you're feeling ambitious, watermelon rind pickles. Then just add toasted baguette slices and a couple of kinds of crackers, and serve with wine (obviously). Perfect for holiday entertaining or a fancy night in.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 3.26.49 PM There are still a few (slightly sad) looking tomatoes at the farmer's market here in New York, but with snow in Minnesota this week, there's no doubt that winter will be here sooner than we know it. Tomato soup is possibly my favorite way to bridge the gap between summer and fall–you get the brightness and acidity of summer's best produce with the coziness of a warm fall soup. Make this weekend, and stock up in the freezer for a little taste of summer all through the cold months to come.

I didn't have a chance to photograph this the night I made it (curse you, Daylight Savings Time!) but did snap this picture at my desk the next day for lunch. Serve with grilled cheese  sandwiches, obviously (because let's be honest, who really wants tomato soup without grilled cheese?)

Roasted Tomato Soup (adapted from Ina Garten, courtesy of my mom)

3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise 1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 2 cups chopped yellow or white onions 6 garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1 (28-ounce) canned plum tomatoes, with juice 2teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1 quart chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Toss together the tomatoes, 1/8 cup olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

In a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade, or blend until relatively smooth in a blender. Taste for seasonings.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

_MG_7459Brussels sprouts were one of those vegetables I stayed away from as a kid because someone told me they were gross, and once I finally tried them as a teenager, made me kick myself for missing out all those years. _MG_7469We eat them all the time in the winter, usually simply roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper until they are super crispy, but when I came across this salad from one of my favorite little restaurants in NYC, I knew I had to give it a try. I made do with what I had, but since you only need a few ingredients, the salad comes together in minutes and is a study in simplicity. It goes perfectly with roast chicken or short ribs, and makes a great alternative to traditional winter roasted vegetables. _MG_7465

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad (adapted from the New York Times)

24 brussels sprouts

½ cup raw walnut halves (I only had almonds, so I used that instead)

¼ cup fork-crumbled parmiggiano reggiano

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

Trim bottoms of brussels sprouts and discard any discolored or loose outer leaves. Using a mandoline, the slicing attachment on a food processor or a very sharp knife, shave sprouts into the thinnest of slices.

In a large bowl, combine shaved sprouts with the other ingredients, mixing roughly by hand so that the greens begin to wilt a little. Season to taste with salt and add a little more olive oil and lemon juice if necessary.

 

Apple Cake

_MG_7490It's definitely getting to be the time of year when curling up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book sounds most appealing. I've stated my love for summer many a time, but there's something about the crisp air coming in through windows cracked open, when you can wear sweaters and ballet flats but don't need to worry about a heavy coat just yet. _MG_7472

 

_MG_7491This cake, which I actually made to celebrate Rosh Hashana weeks ago when Ari's mom was in town, was the perfect way to usher in fall. I love cakes that only use one bowl, and this still feels special enough to serve at a dinner party–but it tastes even better for breakfast the next day.

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Apple Cake (Adapted from the New York Times)

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 ⅓ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 Gala or other flavorful apples, peeled, cored and each cut into 8 slices
1 teaspoon Calvados or apple brandy
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan or regular cake pan, and set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, combine remaining 8 ounces butter, 1 1/3 cups sugar and the salt. Mix until blended. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour and baking powder until thoroughly mixed. Fold in a few of the apples, and spread batter evenly in pan.
  3. In large bowl, toss remaining apples with Calvados, ginger and cinnamon. Arrange apple slices in closely fitting concentric circles on top of dough; all the slices may not be needed. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over apples.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake dough comes out clean and apples are golden and tender, about 50 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

White Bean & Chorizo Soup

_MG_7448 It's been a tough couple of weeks around here, hence the lack of posting. But things are slowly starting to feel more normal (booking flights to Paris for early next spring definitely helped), and I always find that in times of stress or heartache, cooking makes me feel better. Something about the routine of chopping onions, simmering broth and de-stemming kale lets me know that things will be all right, and that sometimes, a bowl of hot soup really can help._MG_7449

Maybe it's the definite smell of fall in the air, but I've been wanting chorizo in everything lately. Versions of this soup have been on almost weekly rotation for the past month or so, and I think it makes a perfect, hearty meal that you'll be able to make through the winter. _MG_7455

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White Bean & Chorizo Soup (adapted from Condé Nast Traveler)

3 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and medium diced 2 medium carrots, peeled and medium diced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 tablespoon tomato paste 6 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1 medium Russet potato, peeled and medium diced 3 cans (15-ounce each) cannellini beans, drained

1/2 bunch kale or chard, de-stemmed and chopped 4 cups chicken stock Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat a medium cast-iron pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and carrot. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomato paste, chorizo, and potato and stir to incorporate all flavors. Add the drained beans, kale and chicken stock, then stir and bring liquid to a simmer over high heat. Cover the pot, reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Limoncello

_MG_6673Ahh, fall. As I've said many a time before, I love summer. But there is definitely something about crisp nights, warm cappuccinos in the morning and changing leaves that you can't help but love. But since I'm not quite ready to let go of summer yet, I wanted to share a recipe for limoncello in case you are in need of a refreshing digestivo on these still-warm days. If you haven't had limoncello before, it's basically sweetened, lemon-infused alcohol, usually drunk ice-cold after meals to aid digestion. You can also use it in cocktails, if you wish, or add some seltzer to dilute it a bit._MG_6670 _MG_6669The recipe itself couldn't be easier, but does take some time: I let the lemon peels soak for a full month for maximum lemon flavor (since, as you may know, I love anything lemon) and used the least amount of sugar recommended.  We've been enjoying this all summer, and it's a great thing to bring out at parties – or to give as (eek!) holiday gifts (not that I'm thinking about that yet.)

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On a more serious note: though I did not live in New York City 13 years ago, over the past four years this city has continued to amaze, inspire, and astonish me every single day. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to live here, and to get to know the varied–and incredibly resilient–people who call New York their home. Thoughts go out to anyone who was affected by what happened on that terrible day.

Limoncello (recipe from The Kitchn)

10 lemons, washed and dried (it's best to use organic since you will only be using the peels) 1 750-ml bottle vodka (100-proof preferred, or 80-proof) 1 cup sugar

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peels from all the lemons. Try to remove only the outer yellow skin and as little of the pith as possible. Trim away any large pieces of pith with a paring knife, but don't worry about trimming every last scrap.

Transfer the lemon peels to a 1-quart jar and cover with vodka. Screw on the lid.  Let the vodka and lemon peels infuse somewhere out of the way and out of direct sunlight for at least 4 days and up to one month. The longer you let the vodka infuse, the more lemony your limoncello.

After your vodka has infused for the length of time you choose, line a strainer with a large coffee filter and set it over a 4-cup measuring cup. Strain the infused vodka through the filter. You may need to stir the vodka in the strainer if the flow stops.

Prepare a simple syrup of 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar — bring the water to a simmer and stir in the sugar to dissolve; allow to cool. Mix with vodka, and you have limoncello! Store in the freezer for up to one year.

Tomato Lobster Pasta

_MG_6657Though autumn in New York City is reportedly the best time of the year, I can't exactly say that I'm happy about summer ending. Beachgoing, sipping cold rosé, picnics outside, bonfires, all the peaches I can manage to eat...summer is my favorite. So I'm soaking up the last few weeks of warm days as much as possible, and when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. It  helped that lobster was on sale (and I only needed one lobster for four very large servings). But it did mean that I had to kill it–but I'm happy to say, there was minimal screaming and Ari only helped a little bit._MG_6654 _MG_6652

That said, if you aren't so inclined to kill a lobster of your own, you can easily use shrimp instead–just peel and devein, and throw in the pan with tomatoes to quickly cook._MG_6665

In any case, hope you are all enjoying the last week of summer to the fullest, and have a wonderful long weekend! Any big plans for Labor Day?_MG_6663

Tomato Lobster Pasta (adapted from Bon Appétit)

12 ounces spaghetti

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound cherry and/or Sun Gold 
 tomatoes, halved

1  lobster, boiled (approximately 12 minutes), shelled, and picked through 
(or 1 lb. cooked large shrimp)

Freshly ground black pepper

Zest from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus additional lemon wedges (for serving)

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

 

Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shallot and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes are soft and juicy, 5–8 minutes.

 

Add lobster meat to skillet and toss to coat. Add pasta and ½ cup reserved pasta cooking liquid; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and top with zest.

 

Serve pasta with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over (and plenty of crusty bread for soaking up the sauce).

Chorizo-Potato Tacos

_MG_6528First off, thank you for indulging me and for your thoughtful comments on my last post. Still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, but rest assured, I will let you know. _MG_6509 _MG_6525

And now why you're really here: tacos. More precisely, chorizo & potato tacos with avocado-tomatillo salsa. Comes together in half an hour, doesn't require turning on the stove, and uses those pesky green vegetables that I love but always hesitate to buy since I'm not sure what to do with them. Plus, you can't really go wrong with the combination of potatoes and spicy sausage–a perfect August dinner, if I do say so. _MG_6532_MG_6521

 

Chorizo-Potato Tacos (adapted from Martha Stewart/Rick Bayless)

3 medium red-skin boiling or Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

Coarse salt

1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage, casing removed (make sure it's not Spanish chorizo)

1 small white onion, finely chopped

3 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped

2-3 tablespoons lime juice

1 clove garlic

1 jalapeno, stemmed

1 1/2 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

Cornmeal tortillas, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, combine chorizo and onion. Cook, stirring often, until sausage is cooked through and onion is soft, about 10 minutes. If sausage has rendered more than a light coating of fat over bottom of skillet, pour off extra. Add potatoes, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring often, until potatoes begin to brown, about 8 minutes. As mixture cooks, mash everything together a little with back of a spoon or a spatula, scraping up any crusty bits of potato, so that it roughly holds together. Cover, and keep warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine tomatillos, garlic, lime juice and jalapeno. Pulse until fine. Add avocado, and pulse until combined. Season with salt.

Wrap tortillas in a warm, damp kitchen towel, put them in a microwave-safe casserole dish, and cover. Warm in the microwave for 4 minutes, remove, and let stand a few minutes. Top each tortilla with potato mixture and avocado salsa, fold in half, and serve.